Monday, January 28, 2008

Schziophrenia a risk for children of fathers past 30

The contribution of a father’s increased age could explain a good number of the observations associated with schizophrenia. For instance, although schizophrenia clearly runs in families, it does not do so in a manner consistent with the classical genetics of Gregor Mendel. It can, for instance, appear in families where it has not been seen before. The risk attached to older fathers may be more apparent today. Probably a certain number of older men have always produced children, but having a large pool of older fathers healthy enough to have children in substantial numbers is a new phenomenon.
The most likely reason is that men are constantly developing new sperm. Because the precursors to sperm— spermatocytes—divide every 16 days, by the time a man is 55 years old, almost 1,000 cell divisions have taken place. The opportunity for a copying error in the sperm in which a mutation spreads through the generations of sperm by copying itself is, therefore, relatively high.



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